| 13.4°C Belfast

Deadline set over prison standards

Close

Prison chiefs have been given four weeks to get jails up to scratch

Prison chiefs have been given four weeks to get jails up to scratch

Prison chiefs have been given four weeks to get jails up to scratch

Prison chiefs have been given four weeks to get the country's jails up to standard.

Severe overcrowding, slopping-out and broken windows and equipment are among the litany of concerns highlighted by Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly.

He also criticised the detention of juveniles with adults in St Patrick's Institution and how deaths in custody are investigated.

"I found that there was no consistent procedure for the investigation of prisoners' deaths across the Irish Prison System. I also found that such investigations did not meet the requirements of international best practice," he said.

Judge Reilly made unannounced visits to 14 prisons between September and December. His annual report 2010 gave a bird's eye view on cleanliness, general repair, population and the regimes and services in each prison.

The inspector raised serious concern about Castlerea, Cork and Limerick Prisons and the Dochas Centre for Women - having recently published a separate report listing failings in Mountjoy.

He warned that by July 1 he wants procedures in place to deal with deaths in custody. He also want records to back up any complaint and disciplinary procedures.

He demanded that work be carried out to paint and clean dirty prisons and improve unacceptable cells. Broken windows and out-of-commission or leaking equipment must be repaired. Judge Reilly said while slopping out and overcrowding cannot be eliminated by July 1, he wants in-cell sanitation rolled out nationwide.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said there was no doubt overcrowding presents a significant challenge within the prison system. But he said the population will drop when those jailed for less serious crimes can instead be given a community service order.

The minister said the Irish Prison Service is already engaged in an extensive project to upgrade more than 100 cells at Mountjoy Prison with sanitation to be completed by the end of summer.

PA